County pulls plug on cable TV board |

County pulls plug on cable TV board

Greg Risling

In the early ’80s, cable television service on the South Shore had low ratings from residents.

The fervor over more cable channels and local programming took the area by storm. The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors even established an advisory committee.

Fourteen years later, the supervisors decided to terminate the Meyers/Tahoe Cable TV Franchise Review Board. The appointed committee had been dormant since 1986, an 11-year lapse since the last meeting.

Dissolving the inactive board, which was created in 1983, is part of a review of some 70 boards and commissions in El Dorado County. The request made by the Board of Supervisors four years ago has crawled down the long chain of command.

“It got reassigned to me and after finding the original resolution we noticed that this committee hasn’t had any contact with the county in quite some time,” said County Counsel Tom Parker. “From what I can gather, when the cable group was formed, the county felt the folks up in Tahoe needed an advisory voice when it came to cable television.”

Meyers has always had a different cable carrier than the rest of Tahoe. The committee kept tabs on breaking events for both Tahoe TV Cable and Cable TV of Meyers.

Beginning in 1982, tempers started to flare over a rate hike imposed by Tahoe TV Cable while localized news was being ignored. When the company cut a San Francisco-based network from its basic service lineup and gave preference to its Nevada neighbor, Reno, customers let out a bellowing cry for the return of the Bay Area station.

Another public gripe was the exclusion of Tahoe events. A major component of the negotiations between the city of South Lake Tahoe and Tahoe TV in 1983 was local programming. Viewers wanted more stations and a better system. Eventually parent company, TeleCommunications, Inc., made room for three stations devoted to the Tahoe region and today has a 72-channel capacity.

With local governments as the regulatory entity responsible for franchise licenses, the possibility of sour relations is always a threat. The county is currently negotiating with Media One for West Slope service. Its contract expires next year.

Tahoe is still divided into regions. TCI has a contract with the city. The Meyers and Tahoe Paradise area is covered by American Cable Entertainment. Comstar is responsible for the West Shore.

Now that technology has updated nearly everyone’s television with a variety of entertainment, people would rather tune in than tune out.

“There are still big improvements yet to occur in the cable industry,” said Ollie Reighn, the county’s liaison to cable companies, who added more regulation in the last decade has calmed tensions. “In the next couple of years, the companies plan to add more channels, which will keep customers happy.”

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